The Biden administration is turning Trump’s sensible policy towards China and Russia on its head.
China is now the biggest threat to western civilization and strength in the world. It competes with us head to head on the world economic stage. Russia is a red herring. Not only is China the last communist mega power, it also owns a tremendous amount of western debt and other financial instruments.
England learned what economic might of this kind can do when Roosevelt summarily called off the cozy Suez adventure between Britain and France. China hasn’t yet flexed this sort of muscle, but it already can. America might soon get a taste of its own medicine.
Russia, on the other hand, is barely on the economic playing field. It sells some oil and lumber and perhaps some beaver backs for lady’s hats that nobody can don anymore without attracting sanctimonious reprisals and mockery. It is true that Russia still thinks in terms of “spheres of influence” and still wants to call the shots in Eastern Europe (and some of the shots in the Balkans and Caucasus). And it is also true that it still has a nasty nuclear arsenal. But huffing and puffing every time Putin decides to toss another oligarch in the tank amounts to geopolitical silliness. True, presumably our “outrage” is meant to weaken Putin’s grip, so western powers can go in and make Russia a nice global place like everywhere else. The problem is that ordinary Russians see through this transparent pretext. Nobody over there is buying it except for some scattered jurists and journalists. And in the meantime, the real danger of China is being neglected.
It is like overlooking the dragon blowing fire just over our rooftops in favor of shooing off a bear spotted rummaging in the village rubbish heap. Sometimes the bear growls at some loudmouthed ruffian and everyone chatters whilst the fence is already alite with flying flame. It is ceaselessly muttered that Trump had some sort of bromance with Putin. But that is all nonsense on stilts. Trump had the businessman’s common sense to know where the real competition is. Biden, bedeviled by his own propaganda and pap, can’t see the folly of reversing Trump’s prudent policy.
China is old and wise. Perhaps we don’t feel its strength because the dragon is also a serpent. Perhaps it shies from the sort of triumphant display we can readily recognize. Certainly, it doesn’t sermonize to the world. It lets us prattle and prattle.